Carson City Board of Supervisors on Thursday approved amendments to collective bargaining agreements with the city’s alternative sentencing officers, sheriff’s deputies and firefighters association.
“This has been a long time coming. They represent 50 to 60 percent of the general fund budget,” said City Manager Nick Marano.
The process wasn’t always easy, everyone agreed.
“There were points where we were no longer talking to one another, we were yelling at one another,” Marano said, referring specifically to the CBA negotiated with the firefighters. “I’m very pleased to tell you with Chief Slamon on board he has righted that ship.”
The new firefighters agreement creates a basic life support (BLS) program, outfitted with an ambulance and two emergency medical technicians, who can answer calls for less critical care that are currently responded to by the city’s advanced life support program or via mutual aid.
“Right now, advanced life support services are handling all the calls. This agreement is critical,” said Iris Yowell, deputy district attorney. “Basic life support services will make the fire department more effective, make the community more safe, this is just good all around.”
In 2016, the department did a 200-day trial of the BLS ambulance when demand for the service averaged 4.4 calls a day.
“It would take 1.9 calls a day for the BLS ambulance to break even,” said John Arneson, battalion chief, operations, Carson City Fire department.
The service can bill private insurance, Medicare and, soon, Medicaid, said Marano.
The fiscal impact to the city over the six-year agreement, due primarily to BLS salaries and benefits, is $904,348.
“What you don’t see there is the revenue offset,” said Supervisor Brad Bonkowski. “The impact won’t be anywhere near that.”
The CBA negotiated between the city and the sheriff’s deputies went more smoothly than it has in the past.
“I won’t go into the history, but it hasn’t always been pleasant. This was totally different,” said Brett Bindley, deputy sheriff, Carson City Sheriff’s Office.
The total fiscal impact of the four-year agreement is $1,346,613, primarily due to salaries and benefits.
The main change was the move out of a salary set-up in which new hires were being paid the same as deputies with eight to nine years experience and into a 10-step system that allows for 3-4 percent raises.
“It was not fair that a first year deputy got paid the same as someone with 10 years. We had to make the correction in order to attract and retain people,” said Supervisor Lori Bagwell. “It’s not that we as a board are giving away a million dollars. We are very prudent.”
The four-year CBA with the alternative sentencing officers has a total fiscal impact to the city of $25,419.
The amended agreement now allows for 10-hour shifts, which should reduce overtime.
It also changes merit increases from 2 percent to 3 percent, 3.5 percent to 4.5 percent and from 4.5 percent to 5 percent, depending on the performance evaluation.